October 21, 2005

Disturbing Words – Disturbing Reality

Am I the only one disturbed by the opening paragraph of this story in the Washington Post?

A 10th-grade student in southern Prince George's County who allegedly attacked a biology teacher with a baseball bat during a class this week faces expulsion and possible criminal prosecution, a school system spokesman said yesterday.

Did you see that – “possible criminal prosecution”? What the hell is this “possible” crap? A teacher was physically assaulted with a deadly weapon in his classroom by a student. If this creep were to have done this to a random person on the street there would be no question of prosecution and he would already be some career criminal’s new girlfriend. Instead, we get this report.

According to [Prince George's schools spokesman John] White, the male student entered a biology classroom about 1 p.m. Wednesday and allegedly attacked the teacher in front of other students shortly before the class was to be dismissed. A witness said the assailant wore a ski mask, according to the Associated Press.

The suspect had been enrolled in a biology class with the teacher, but not during that period.

White said campus security officers caught the student as he was fleeing the classroom. He was questioned and released to his parents.

White said the teacher was treated at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton for bumps and bruises, including injuries to the face, head, shoulders and hands. The teacher was released late Wednesday and was recuperating at home, White said.

White declined to identify the student or the teacher. He said the teacher was a 28-year veteran of the school system who had been at Gwynn Park for more than a decade.

"It's unfortunate and unexpected," White said. "It's not a routine occurrence. That's why it's shocking."

WJLA television identified the teacher as Dario Valcarcel, who was listed on a school Web site as a science faculty member.

The school principal did not return a telephone call for comment. Messages left at a residential phone number for Valcarcel were not immediately returned.

Look at the stuff I put in bold there. “Injuries to the face, head, shoulders and hands” – in other words, an assault designed to incapacitate and/or kill Mr. Valcarcel and injuries sustained as he attempted to defend himself from what could reasonably be classified as ATTEMPTED MURDER. But all that happened to the perpetrator was being sent home with mommy and daddy! Why were the police not called in immediately so that an investigation could begin immediately and would-be killer arrested on the spot?

And you will notice the little bit at the end of the article about neither the principal nor the teacher responding o telephone calls seeking comment. My guess is that there will be none, at least if things operate as they do in my district. Only the district spokesperson and superintendent are permitted to speak to the media – we are even required to wear a little card along with our IDs that tell us that in the event of media contact we are required to report the matter to our supervisor, who will then contact our district spokesperson. The card also gives us the sum total of what we are allowed to say to the media under such circumstances – “You need to speak to the director of communications, Olga Obfuscation. Her cell phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.” Any further comment is grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

How long will it be until teacher safety is taken seriously in this country? Why are reports to the police not automatic and immediate? Why the secrecy surrounding incidents in the schools – like the one several years ago in my district in which an assistant principal was knifed breaking up a fight (fortunately with no serious harm)? Will it be necessary for another teacher to be driven from the classroom from Post-Traumatic Stress, to be permanently disabled, or to be killed?

Do we as educators need to speak out to raise the issue more clearly? Or will it take a nationwide walkout for teacher safety – and I ask that as a teacher in a state where such actions are illegal and grounds for both termination and sanctions against our certification.

Or are we just expected to continue be low-paid functionaries whose safety is irrelevant to our employers?

(10/22/05 -- I'm linking this to several "Open Trackback" posts around the web. Welcome to visitors from Cao's Blog, Jo's Cafe, MacStansbury, Cafe Oregano, Basil's Blog, Adam's Blog, Mudville Gazette, Publius Rendevous, Obligatory Anecdotes, Indepundit, The Political Teen, TMH's Bacon Bits, Vince Aut Morire, Two Babes and a Brain, Point Five, and My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.)

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Comments on Disturbing Words – Disturbing Reality

If that happened to me, and the school didn't prosecute (which is highly unlikely, granted), I'd not only sue the kid and his family, but my own district as well.

|| Posted by Hube, October 21, 2005 08:37 PM ||

No, you are not the only one disturbed by that word "possible." I also find the whole thing appalling.

|| Posted by Heather, October 21, 2005 08:54 PM ||

If the teacher doesn't press charges, the boy will not face criminal prosecution. Th school board or whatever might have told him not to. That's the only thing I can think of. In our society today where we value our teachers so little, that makes sense too.

|| Posted by Marc, October 22, 2005 06:26 AM ||

Also, the word "alledgedly" is used, too. Kind of flunky and idiotic when a few paragraphs below said that he was caught fleeing and that the teacher sustained injuries caused by the bat.

"A 10th-grade student in southern Prince George's County who allegedly attacked a biology teacher with a baseball bat...."

|| Posted by mcconnell, October 23, 2005 01:38 PM ||

A few years ago when I was attacked by an irate mother, my principal asked me not to file charges and promised me that the school would take care of it. The next day, that mother was back in the building, xeroxing coloring book pages for the elementary.

The principal said it was okay because she said she was sorry.

I think schools are so scared of parents now, they don't really care what they do to their teachers.

|| Posted by Mamacita, October 26, 2005 07:26 AM ||

You seem to think that anyone accused of attacking a teacher should be confined and sexually assaulted.

At my son's middle school an 8th grade boy refused to leave the schoolyard after an aide sent him to the principal's office. My kids tell me he's not a trouble maker and was incorrectly accused of fighting.

The Sheriff's deputy, who works onsite, was duly dispatched and led the boy away in handcuffs.

Ethnic makeup of the school is 90% upper middle class (mostly white), 10% lower middle class (mostly Hispanic), peaceful coastal community.

|| Posted by Brian Gulino, October 26, 2005 10:29 AM ||

I had a kid attempt more than once to hit me last year while I tried to keep him out of joining a fight. Over 100 students saw him attempt this, and, frankly, the only reason he did not accomplish hitting me is because I study martial arts. He was given a five day suspension, and no charges were filed. The AP claimed he didn't understand what had happened to me, although it was on tape and I reencated it for him. My referral mysteriously disappeared.

I'm no spring chicken. If I hadn't been trained, I could have been hurt. The AP did make sure that the kid's parents could hug me later, though. Upon my honor!

|| Posted by Ms. Cornelius, October 26, 2005 06:23 PM ||

Brian -- you seem to have mistaken my intentionally hyperbolic description of what whould happen to someone who committed such an assault outside the confines of a school for advocacy of sexual assault. It isn't, and I'm sorry that you were not able to see it for what it was. As for the other half of the observation -- yeah, I do believe that anyone who perpetrates an assault on a teacher in this manner should be treated roughly the same way as a person who committed a similar assault upon a a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or EMS worker.

As for the situation you described, it seems to me that you want to compare apples to oranges. Are you capable of distinguishing between premeditated assault with a deadly weapon and garden variety adolescent defiance and insubordiantion? And I don't see the relevance of the ethnic makeup of the school in the example, either, unless you are hinting around for a bias angle.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 26, 2005 07:07 PM ||

About an hour after school one day two years ago, I had a parent come up to confront me about his child's performance in class. He came in angry and eventually started shoving. Fortunately, a nearby teacher called for security. He left before police could arrive. My administrators were supportive and I pressed charges. After the whole court process, the parent ended up with long probation, mandatory counseling and a restraining order. I wish the whole thing hadn't happened, and I feel terrible for his child, but the system worked.

|| Posted by Rick, October 26, 2005 07:57 PM ||

It might be a regional thing. Not too long ago a 6th grader (or 6 year old, I don't recall which) was tasered by the police when they arrived after she was being unruly in the classroom. Somewhere in Florida. That's a bit vague, let me find the link...

Here we go: It was a six year old.

|| Posted by mrsizer, October 26, 2005 08:10 PM ||

Is it time for self defence classes? Has society deterroriated to the point where teachers need defence teaching? WHO ARE THESE "PARENTS"?

|| Posted by newc, November 5, 2005 09:05 AM ||
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